A breast cancer survivor is determined to prove that flat chests are beautiful by posing for stunning topless photographs after undergoing a double mastectomy.
Jamie Lee, 41, from Saint Joseph,
The mom-of-two went to see her doctor who thought that the lump was a benign cyst but to be on the safe side an ultrasound and biopsy was ordered. On December 14, 2012, Jamie received the devastating news that she had breast cancer.
Proud: Breast cancer survivor Jamie Lee, 41, is showing off her double mastectomy scars in a series of stunning topless photos to ‘normalize’ her decision to ‘go flat’
Powerful: The mother-of-two, from Michigan, underwent a double mastectomy in 2013 after being diagnosed with cancer shortly after she stopped breastfeeding her younger son
Speaking out: Jamie views her scars as a symbol of her strength and she shares her story on social media to raise awareness of the importance of people regularly checking their breast
Decisions: The cancer survivor had always intended to get a breast reconstruction, but she developed a severe infection in the beginning stages of the procedure, and changed her mind
Terrified and with two young children who she wanted to see grow up, Jamie decided that the best course of action was to have the most aggressive treatment available.
Jamie underwent a bilateral mastectomy which was followed up with several rounds of grueling chemotherapy which she completed on April 4, 2013. Jamie’s treatment plan was considered radical at the time but she was determined to do everything in her power to beat cancer and thrive.
After chemotherapy, Jamie had an oophorectomy to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes as her type of cancer was fueled by hormones.
Jamie had always planned to have a breast reconstruction after her treatment had finished but in the early stages of the reconstruction process, she contracted an infection which left her hospitalized for a week.
After this ordeal she decided that she would learn to love her body without boobs.
Jamie has never regretted her decision to go ‘flat’ but taking part in a photoshoot for her local hospital’s mammogram studio gave her confirmation that she could still feel feminine with a flat chest.
Jamie views her scars as a symbol of her warrior strength and she shares her story on social media to raise awareness of the importance of people regularly checking their breasts.
‘When I was 33 years old, I had just stopped breastfeeding. While I was in the shower I bent down to pick up something and I felt a sharp electric like pain,’ said Jamie.
‘I immediately felt my chest and could feel a lump. As soon as I felt the lump my heart dropped. I immediately felt like something was wrong.
Message: Jamie wants people to know that the disease can affect everyone, saying, ‘Cancer doesn’t care that I was a young wife, with two beautiful boys’
Bold step: She first decided to pose topless when her hospital asked her to take part in a shoot for the mammogram studio and she seized the opportunity to spread awareness
Emotional: ‘After that shoot, I felt liberated. I know that I could rock my flat chest. I felt empowered,’ she explained
Support: Jamie began sharing images from her shoot on social media, where she received an outpouring of support – as well as thankful messages from other breast cancer survivors
‘Soon after I made and appointment with my OBGYN for a physical assessment. The doctor felt the lump and initially was not concerned. She thought it was probably a cyst that may need to be aspirated.
‘The doctor sent me to get an ultrasound, they located the lump and still weren’t convinced it was anything to worry about so to be on the safe side a biopsy was ordered.
‘I received the news that I had breast cancer. I was terrified. My boys were still very young, five and a baby in diapers.
‘I knew that I would fight this as aggressively as possible because my only concern/dream was to watch my beautiful boys grow up.
‘I decided on a bilateral mastectomy, with delayed breast reconstruction. This was eight years ago and it was considered a radical choice at the time.
‘In August [of that year] I attempted to have breast reconstruction. For those that aren’t familiar with that process, the surgeon places expanders under your chest muscle, the expanders are like silicon balloons with small metal ports, and over time they inject saline into the ports and make the expanders larger over time.
‘I was approximately one month into the process when I started to feel very sick. It started with a fever, and chills, no appetite.
‘My husband took me to the ER, at the ER I was told that my pulse was 250 and that I had a horrible infection and that they would be transferring me to a larger hospital that day via ambulance.
Fight: After she was first diagnosed, Jamie chose the most aggressive course of treatment because she wanted to be sure that she would live to see her boys grow up
Intense: After chemotherapy, Jamie, pictured in hospital during her mastectomy, had an oophorectomy to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes
Groundbreaking: When Jamie took part in her first topless shoot, she explained that she hadn’t ever seen photos of women baring their scars – and she wanted to change that
Warrior: ‘No one was posting pictures of their battle wounds, I couldn’t find pictures of mastectomies. The first mastectomy I saw was my own,’ she recalled
‘I was then admitted and stayed in the hospital fighting this infection for over a week. I was released from the hospital on our oldest son’s sixth birthday. At that time, I knew I would never attempt breast reconstruction again.
‘I would need to learn how to love myself and my body without boobs.’
Jamie described what it was like taking part in her first topless photoshoot which celebrated her incredible fight.
‘After I made the decision to go “flat” I was contacted by my local OBGYN. They were remodeling their mammography studio and were looking for models,’ she said.
‘The women in the shoot would be showing their chest from the neck to the waist and they were showing all kinds of women’s breasts. Some had never had breast cancer, some had and had opted for a lumpectomy, some only one mastectomy.
‘I agreed to the shoot but only if I could show my face. I felt that it was really important that other women, other people understand that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate.
‘This is not a disease for old people, this is a disease that can hit anyone regardless of age, race, or gender. Cancer doesn’t care that I was a young wife, with two beautiful boys. The studio agreed to show my face.
‘After that shoot, I felt liberated. I know that I could rock my flat chest. I felt empowered. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a warrior. I didn’t see my scars as a weakness, I didn’t feel less feminine. I felt like I could rock my scars.
‘This was eight years ago and no one was posting pictures of their battle wounds, I couldn’t find pictures of mastectomies. The first mastectomy I saw was my own, when the dressings were removed. This deeply bothered me.
Changing perspectives: Jamie wants to help ‘normalize’ women without breasts – and prove that they can still be feminine and beautiful
Revolution: ‘There is still this push and assumption that women will get breast reconstruction after cancer. I hope to redefine beautiful,’ the mom said
Important: She also wants to make it clear to other women how important it is that they check their breasts regularly for lumps
‘After my diagnosis I had met many young women that had gone through breast cancer, most on social media, I knew at least some of them had to have gone through the same process as me.
‘I told my husband that I was going to post a picture from that photoshoot. My husband was supportive of this, however, he was also concerned about potential backlash and how that would affect me.
‘I reassured him that this would be a win, win no matter what, that by seeing my scars women would either say, yes I look like that too, or they would say I don’t want to look like that so they would take their breast health more seriously.
‘I did end up receiving an outpouring of love and support most from women that had also gone through this same journey and also looked like me.’
Finally, Jamie emphasized the importance of self-examinations for early diagnosis.
‘I think it is so important that no matter what age you are that you are doing your self-exams, self-exams are vital in this fight. I also would like to say that no matter what cancer has left you with, rock it’ she said.
‘We are more than this diagnosis. Never be ashamed of your story, there is so much pressure still today for women when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.
‘There is still this push and assumption that women will get breast reconstruction after cancer. I hope to redefine beautiful.
‘I hope that we as a society can normalize “flat” as both a beautiful and feminine option.’